Three companies line up to build offshore wind facilities off WA

Competition is hot for the first offshore wind facility off Western Australia, with three companies expressing interest.

The move comes as nations without the luxury of Australia’s expansive land space and coastline look to invest in renewable projects worldwide to decarbonise their economies. The three companies looking to invest in WA are:

  • Oceanex: This Melbourne-based company is made up of a combination of local founders and international investors.
  • Pilot Energy: A NSW-based oil and gas company looking to expand into renewables.
  • Australis: This UK-registered company oversees WA Offshore, and has lodged plans for a billion-dollar development off the coast north of Bunbury.

The plans from Australis involve a 300MW project that will include 20 and 37 turbines off the coast between Preston Beach and Myalup. A 60-page supporting document has already been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the goal is to use larger turbines to reduce construction and environmental impact.

The location was chosen for its proximity to the grid, and would seemingly put it ahead of Oceanex and Pilot. Australis chair Mark Petterson said it was the perfect location to kick-start Australia’s offshore industry.

“The density of wind energy in southwestern Australia represents an attractive location for offshore wind farms,” he said.

“When combined with the relatively shallow waters and small tidal range, the proposed [site] represents an ideal location for an initial construction.”

Death of fossil fuels to expedite wind projects 

Up to this point, the challenge facing turbine projects has been logistics. The best locations around the country are nowhere near electricity networks, while the other sites have been close to existing coal mining operations.

With coal mines closing down around the country and fewer new projects being approved, Oceanex chief executive Andy Evans said now was the ideal time to invest in renewable energy projects.

“Now with a lot of coal mines forecast to shut down, that’s where the opportunity is – to plug into the available grid, or grid which will be available,” he said.

Victoria likely to unveil Australia’s first offshore wind resource 

Just off the coast of the Gippsland region that extends from the edge of Melbourne to the New South Wales border, there are big plans for renewable energy production in the Tasman Sea.

The Star of the South project has conducted an in-depth analysis of the Gippsland site in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology. It anticipated Australia’s first offshore site would be operational by 2028.

It will be the latest renewable source to join the Australian landscape, with solar and onshore wind proving exceptionally popular while hydrogen production is starting to take off.

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